Making a Difference– Reducing CO2 Emissions
Steps to Reduce Global Warming
a variety of local, state, national and international measures are in place
to reduce global warming, there are also steps that individuals can take.
Many involve reducing an individual's personal carbon dioxide emissions – a
major contributor to global warming. The everyday choices we make in the
home, office, school, or community can have an impact on global climate
In the Home
Major changes one can make in the home to reduce global warming involve
heating and cooling. Turning the thermostat lower in the winter and higher
in the summer can cause a carbon dioxide reduction of approximately 500
pounds for each two-degree adjustment. Placing the water heater temperature
to the recommended 120 degrees can save 500 pounds of carbon dioxide
annually. In addition, washing two loads of laundry each week in cold rather
than in hot water can also save up to 500 pounds of carbon dioxide each
When purchasing new appliances look for models that have the Energy Star
label – awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency. While these models
may initially cost more than non-Energy Star models, the energy savings will
repay the investment within a few short years. It is estimated that if every
U.S. household used only the most energy efficient appliances available, it
could save nearly $15 billion in energy costs and reduce heat-trapping gas
emissions by 175 million tons.
Some of the simplest actions in the home include turning off all lights and
appliances when they are not in use and recycling. Changing to
energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs can reduce annual carbon dioxide
emissions by nearly 500 pounds for each bulb replaced. When shopping,
purchasing minimally-packaged goods easily reduces waste. Cutting down on
household garbage by 25% can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 1,000
pounds a year.
Finally, having the utility company do a home energy audit to find out where
a home is poorly insulated or energy-inefficient can result in an additional
reduction of thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
Whenever possible, individuals should try to walk, bike, carpool, or use
public transportation to get from place to place. For every gallon of gas
that is saved, carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by 20 pounds. When
purchasing a car, one should do research to find a car that can meet one's
needs while providing good gas mileage. If a new car purchase can get 10
miles per gallon more than the old one, it could save around 2,500 pounds of
carbon dioxide a year. If possible, drivers should consider looking at
purchasing a hybrid automobile.
For car owners, keeping up with the maintenance of the vehicle – getting the
engine tuned-up and tires properly inflated will help increase overall fuel
efficiency. If all Americans kept their tires properly inflated, gasoline
use nationwide could be reduced by nearly two percent. Cleaning or replacing
a car's air filter can save an additional 5% of the energy needed and reduce
carbon dioxide emissions by 175 pounds per year.
In the Office
If the office does not already have measures in place, any individual can
help institute several energy and waste saving steps. Although not always an
option, start an office carpool with co-workers that live in the same
community. Make sure to turn off all lights and appliances that do not need
to be on at the end of the day. Suggesting the use of ceramic cups in place
of disposable ones can also reduce waste.
With respect to paper waste, using both sides of a sheet for printing,
copying, writing and drawing can eliminate a lot of paper waste. For every
pound of office paper that is recycled, it can reduce carbon dioxide
emissions by four pounds. Try instituting an office recycling program; use
waste paper for printing drafts or meeting agendas or reuse them in plain
paper fax machines since faxes only print on one side.
In the Community
Join or start a community group in the neighborhood and dedicate a day to
planting trees throughout the community. Trees store carbon and provide
shade during the summer, which can cool houses and result in lower energy
use. Encourage the use of bikes with bike rack placement at public buildings
and businesses to promote biking over driving. If driving, try to start a
neighborhood carpool with people that work in similar areas.
Be sure to stay informed about environmental issues in the community. This
may include keeping track of local candidates' voting records, and calling
or writing to express any ideas or concerns. Finally ask that governors,
state legislators, and public utility regulators promote energy efficiency
and the development of clean, renewable sources of energy.
Source: Environmental Literacy Council